Biden admin’s border policies now face backlash from Democrats and Republicans

Biden admin’s border policies now face backlash from Democrats and Republicans

A new set of border measures expanded by the Biden administration earlier this month — which the Department of Homeland Security says is working to slow illegal border crossings — is facing a significant backlash from Republicans and Americans. Democrats, but for very different reasons.

President Biden announced earlier this month that the administration was taking a number of steps to reduce illegal border crossings, which have skyrocketed under his watch — to a record 250,000 in December alone.

These measures saw the expansion of a humanitarian parole program that had originally been open to Venezuelans to now also include Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans – allowing more than 30,000 to fly directly to the United States per month. if they have a US sponsor and do a background check. , and did not enter it illegally.

This measure was combined with an expansion of Title 42 deportations to include up to 30,000 such nationalities who entered illegally each month. Separately, the Department of Homeland Security announced a rule that would make migrants ineligible to seek asylum if they had passed through a country without first seeking asylum there.


U.S. President Joe Biden talks to members of the U.S. Border Patrol as they walk along the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas January 8, 2023.
(JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Image)

The administration claimed this week that initial data shows the policies are working, with a 97% drop in encounters from those four nationalities – and January is on track to see the lowest number of border encounters since the start. of the crisis in February 2021.

But the carrot and stick approach has drawn separate criticism from left and right, who say the policy is illegal but for different reasons.

The expansion of Title 42 and its asylum ineligibility rule immediately drew fury from left-wing activist groups, the UN and some Democrats for allegedly limiting asylum. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the measures “appear contrary to the prohibition of collective expulsions and the principle of non-refoulement”.


“While I welcome steps to create and expand safe and regular pathways, such initiatives must not come at the expense of fundamental human rights, including the right to seek asylum and the right to individual assessment. protection needs,” he said. “Limited access to humanitarian parole for some cannot replace respect for the rights of all to seek protection of their human rights.”

This week, 77 Democratic members of the House and Senate wrote to President Biden praising the parole program, but saying, “It is disappointing that these avenues come at the expense of the legal right to seek parole. asylum on the southern border”.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, is one of 77 Democrats to oppose Biden's border security measures.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, is one of 77 Democrats to oppose Biden’s border security measures.
(Drew Angerer/Pool via AP)

“The right to seek asylum is enshrined in national and international law. Four decades ago, the Senate unanimously codified the protections of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Congress further clarified that seeking Border asylum, “whether or not at a designated port of arrival, “is lawful,” they wrote. “The border enforcement actions announced by the administration circumvent this law not only by expanding Title 42 beyond what is required by any court, but by implementing additional policies to deter and penalize persons exercising their legal right to seek asylum at the border.”

At a press conference Thursday, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, fumed about having some migrants seek asylum in a country other than the United States.

“The administration cannot have it both ways when it claims to be committed to restoring access to asylum, then ruthlessly blocks access to asylum by imposing a no-transit policy that forces migrants to first seek humanitarian protection in a third country,” he said.


In the face of such criticism, the Biden administration sought to distance itself from claims that it would be a transit ban similar to that seen under the Trump administration, and noted that migrants can seek asylum in entry points, including using a new application.

“If they don’t use this app, they will need to have applied for humanitarian aid in one of the countries they passed through,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this month. “And if they were refused, then – then they are not subject to – not a ban, but a rebuttable presumption of ineligibility. And there is a marked difference between the two.”

Meanwhile, the administration faced another, potentially more serious, challenge to the policy as 20 Republican states filed a lawsuit against the part of the humanitarian parole policy – claiming it was illegal. .

This lawsuit, filed by Texas and America First Legal in the Southern District of Texas, and joined by 19 additional states, underscores the limits on parole imposed by Congress, which says that authority must be used on a “case-by-case” basis. case”. for urgent humanitarian reasons or an important public interest” – and claims that the policy fails to meet this standard.

“The parole program established by the Department does not meet each of the three limiting factors of the law. It is not on a case-by-case basis, it is not for urgent humanitarian reasons and does not provide any significant public benefit. Instead, it amounts to creating a new visa program that allows hundreds of thousands of foreigners to enter the United States who otherwise have no reason to. than to follow, the clear limits imposed by Congress,” the lawsuit states.


The states claim the program is also illegal because it failed to engage in the development of notice and comment rules required by the Administrative Procedure Act, and they “face substantial irreparable harm as a result of the Department’s abuse of its parole authority, which potentially allows hundreds of thousands of additional extraterrestrials to enter each of their already submerged territories.”

The Biden administration has hit back at the lawsuit, with Mayorkas calling it “incomprehensible” that states are trying to block it. An administration official told TOU Digital that this “shows that extremist elected officials don’t want real solutions; they’d rather continue to use immigration to try to score political points.”